Biden expressed confidence that Obamacare would work despite its rocky start, and despite the administration lagging behind its initial target of signing up 7 million consumers by the end of the open enrollment period on March 31.
“The thing that always bothers me — anybody ever thought this was going to be easy never ever had insurance,” Biden said in an address to the National Association of Community Health Centers Policy & Issues Forum held in Washington, D.C.
“Look, it's complicated,” Biden added. “So we shouldn't be surprised that it's complicated for people who have never thought they'd be able to have insurance. No matter how good the bargain is, it's especially challenging for folks who are looking at it for the first time.”
Thanking the crowd for their efforts, the vice president also acknowledged the troubles that plagued the healthcare.gov website when it launched in October, noting that “we didn't help you much at the front end here, man.”
WIth under two weeks left, the administration has seen a surge in enrollment for state and federal exchanges, but is still below the percentage of young people they initially hoped would sign up.
Twenty-five percent of Obamacare enrollees are young, healthy consumers, short of the early 40 percent target. Young consumers are needed to keep costs down as older, sicker patients are expected to flock to exchanges.
Biden urged community health center workers to help enroll more consumers.
“The bigger the number we bank,” the more likely the administration could withstand efforts to undo the law, he said.
Biden added that governors who had signed up for the law’s Medicaid expansion had done the right thing and predicted that all states would eventually follow suit.
He joked that as a “practitioner of the so-called art of politics” he believed that opposition to the law would die down.
“They will not be able to sustain the heat,” said Biden.